Boeing in fact eliminated the entire Very Large Aircraft sector (400 passengers and up) from its forecast, the Current Market Outlook.
The forecast for the 747-8F now is part of a new category, Freighters, which encompasses all sizes. Boeing projects a need for 920 freighters in the next 20 years.
Rival Airbus continues to forecast a need for 1,400 VLAs in its Global Market Forecast.
Randy Tinseth, VP Marketing for Boeing, acknowledged the 747-8I passenger model is done, probably with Air Force One, the US presidential airplane. The US Air Force plans to acquire two or three 747-8s for the fleet, replacing the two 747-200s in use since the Bush 41 term (1988-1992).
Tinseth also predicted Airbus will be ending production of the 747’s rival, the A380, adding that he doesn’t
believe the A380 backlog will be delivered because of the weak nature of the customers.
After Airbus acknowledged at the IATA AGM June 6-7 that a production rate cut for the A380 to fewer than 1/mo is actively under consideration, LNC published this assessment of the strength of the customer quality.
Emirates Airline, the largest customer for the airplane, is assessed as Yellow (Caution) because of dramatically falling profits this year, previous deferrals of the A380 and of Boeing’s 777X, over-capacity in the Middle East, terrorism in Europe and the Middle East and the US-imposed laptop travel ban.
The future of the A380 is directly tied to Emirates.
Tinseth said yesterday that Airbus’s market forecasting, the Global Market Forecast (GMF), was dramatically wrong on demand for the VLA market. The A380 always illustrates this sector for Airbus, just as the 747 illustrated the sector for Boeing. The sector is defined as 400 seats and up.
Airbus, predictably, pushed back at Tinseth’s presentation.
Bob Lange, SVP, Head of Market and Product Strategy, said in an interview with LNC that Boeing’s graphic represents “revisionist history.”
Airbus and Boeing defined the seating categories differently in 1997, Lange said. But the big difference, Lange says, is that Airbus includes any aircraft configured to maximum capacity (as opposed to the standard two- or three-class seating most commonly used) if this maximum is more than 400 seats. The A380 isn’t the only aircraft that falls into this sector, he said.
This is entirely new public information.*
What this means—and the specific example cited by Lange—is that Cebu Pacific’s A330-300s delivered with more than 400 seats, or an A350-1000 that might be, applies against the VLA figure Airbus produced in the GMF every year since 2000.
By this standard, the 459-seat Boeing 777-300ERs used by Air Canada would fall within Airbus’ VLA demand forecast.
It’s not just about the A380, Lange said, but the broader market.
If this seems like revisionist history, Lange says it isn’t—Airbus just kept this definition internally. Using a rendering of the A380 for the VLA sector was simply showing the company’s flagship, he said.
Lest one think that Airbus is alone in redefining categories, Boeing never put the 407-419-seat 777-9 into the VLA, but rather into the Large Twin category. The prospective 450-seat 777-10 would also be within the Large Twin category under Boeing’s new definition.
Lange admitted that Airbus did miss one sector in its forecasting, but he said Boeing did, too: both companies under-forecast single-aisle demand.
“In 1997, Ryanair had eight lease airplanes,” he said. “Everybody missed the LCC phenomenon.”
*In covering Airbus for decades, this is the first time this writer has ever heard this explanation, despite inquiries and conversations with Airbus officials even within the last few years.